Friday, September 09, 2005
Additionally, several columnists, the Baltimore Sun editorial page editors and NBC News anchor and managing editor Brian Williams have all come forth to speak out about the recent and apparently growing effort to control the news coming from New Orleans.
In his personal weblog yesterday, Williams recounted being turned away from news sites by police and National Guardsmen. "While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard… taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the [French] Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard," Williams wrote. "At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads."
Similarly, Peter Fimrite, of the San Francisco Chronicle:
I did not actually count the number of automatic weapons pointed at me, but there were at least five, and I was certain they were all locked and loaded, or whatever that military phrase is signifying that a gun is ready to blow a hole in somebody.
"Step out!" commanded the black-helmeted man in the middle of what appeared to be a tactical formation. He was pointing a laser-like flashlight attached to his machine gun at me. I must have been quite a sight alone out there on the darkened New Orleans street wearing a headlamp and holding a cell phone at an odd right angle, the only way I could get it to work. I had just been placed on hold.
At least, unlike the US military in Baghdad, FEMA hasn't started shooting the reporters, not yet, anyway.
ORIGINAL POST (9/7/05): From Reuters, it appears that FEMA is more concerned with public relations than the provision of disaster relief:
The U.S. government agency leading the rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from the flooded New Orleans area.
The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light.
And, one is compelled to add, the news media was also prevented, to the extent it was inclined to escape its embedded escorts, from establishing the number of people killed during the attack upon Falluja last November. In the old South, African Americans were at least legally construed as 3/5 of a person. In New Orleans, FEMA is trying to render them invisible, as the US military does with civilian casualties in Iraq.